Message to Primates in the Anglican Communion

To the Primates of the Anglican Communion

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am writing to convey news of developments in the Diocese of New Westminster (Vancouver, British Columbia). At their Synod Friday and Saturday, June 14-15, the members of that synod approved the development of a rite of blessing for committed same-sex unions. In the two previous synods, the clergy and laity had voted in favour of such a development, but the Bishop, the Right Reverend Michael Ingham, had withheld his consent.

Bishop Ingham has, in the intervening two years, initiated a “listening process” in the diocese, encouraging those of different minds on this issue to enter into dialogue. He has consulted with the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, and the diocese has sought a legal opinion as to its authority, under the canons of the Anglican Church of Canada, to proceed with the development of such a rite. In particular, I draw your attention to the provision for an Episcopal Visitor to serve the pastoral needs of those parishes who desire it. I believe that Bishop Ingham and the Diocese of New Westminster have acted responsibly in this matter.

At the same time, I recognize that this development will create tension within the diocese, the province, and the communion. All the same, I recognize, and ask you to respect, the authority of the bishop and synod within the Diocese of New Westminster.

During our recent meeting in Canterbury, we explored a number of principles common to our canon law across the Anglican Communion. Among those principles was the understanding that a bishop has no authority to intervene in the life of a diocese other than his or her own, unless the bishop of that diocese has given permission to do so.

I would welcome your prayers for the Bishop, Synod, and Diocese of New Westminster, along with the House of Bishops, the General Synod, and the Anglican Church of Canada.

Finally, I think it important that you see Bishop Ingham’s proposal, which the synod adopted in “Motion 7”. That text is appended to this letter.

Your fellow servant in Christ,
Michael G. Peers,
Archbishop and Primate

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